Rollout Strategy, Brian Laundrie, and Smokey the AI

Good morning. It's Thursday, Oct. 21, and we're covering the White House's strategy to offer vaccines to schoolchildren, a break in the Gabby Petito murder case, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Vaccine Rollout for Children

White House officials announced yesterday their strategy to make COVID-19 vaccinations available to millions of children across the country, anticipating the looming approval of shots for 28 million children aged 5 through 11. Instead of mass vaccination sites, doses will be distributed to tens of thousands of doctors' offices, health clinics, and pharmacies. 


Doses for the age group would be one-third of that administered to adults. Clinical trials did not measure the efficacy of preventing infection, but demonstrated young patients showed a robust immune system response to the shots. 


A federal advisory panel is scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider recommending the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for children aged 5 through 11. If supported, emergency use authorization could come by the end of next week. 


In related news, the Food and Drug Administration approved booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, and will allow a "mix-and-match" approach to receiving the additional doses.


Separately, two new studies suggest that in pregnant women and new mothers, the sex of the fetus or newborn influences the mother's response to COVID-19 infection. 

Brian Laundrie Search

Investigators searching for Brian Laundrie, the former fiancé of the deceased Gabby Petito, discovered articles yesterday believed to belong to Laundrie off a trail in Florida's Carlton Reserve. Partial human remains were also reportedly found in a nearby location previously underwater; officials have not confirmed whether they are Laundrie's. 


The find follows weeks of fruitless searching for Laundrie, considered a person of interest in Petito's death. The pair had embarked in July on an east-to-west cross-country trip, from which Petito never returned. At one point, bodycam footage from a Utah officer captured a visibly distraught Petito after an altercation between the two (watch here).


Petito was not reported missing until Sept. 1—10 days after returning home alone. She was found strangled to death in Wyoming Sept. 19, by which time Laundrie had disappeared into the reserve under the pretense of hiking. 

NBA Tips Off

The 2021-22 NBA season got into full swing yesterday, returning to its regular 82-game schedule for the first time since the 2018-19 season. All 30 teams will have tipped off by tonight—see results here.


A top storyline is whether reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks can defend their title. The Bucks got off to a hot start Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets, winning 127-104. Antetokounmpo scored 32 points and was three assists short of a triple-double in just 31 minutes of play.


Other questions include whether 36-year-old Los Angeles Laker star LeBron James will begin to slow down, how the Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia will unfold, and how Kyrie Irving's decision to remain unvaccinated—and therefore miss games—will affect the Nets. See more top storylines here.


Heading into the season, Las Vegas views the Nets as favorites to win the title, followed by the Lakers and Bucks, while Dallas' Luka Dončić tops the list of regular season MVP candidates.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> Pig-to-human organ transplant achieved for the first time; surgeons attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a brain-dead patient for 54 hours of observation before removal (More) | Watch this video explainer on why doctors use pigs (Watch)


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Smokey the AI

IEEE Spectrum | Vikhyat Chaudhry. A deep dive into how drones, advanced image analysis, and artificial intelligence are coming together to help prevent forest fires. (Read)

Beyond the Buzzword

Another Podcast | Benedict Evans, Toni Cowan-Brown. (Podcast) References to the "metaverse," a vision of an immense virtual world with millions of simultaneous users, are popping up everywhere. Here's what it really means. (Listen)



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"You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow."

- Carrie Fisher

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